FOX held its upfronts on Monday — the big presentation each network makes to ad buyers to spend their clients’ money on their network and only their network. And in that upfront came a major college football television revelation. (Well, big if you’re the type of nerd that pays attention to the college football television business in the first place.)
Moving forward, FOX — the same network that gave us Cletus the Dancing Robot, that gives us Gus Johnson screaming into the mic every week — is taking college football back to its traditional time slot. Moving forward, FOX’s biggest games will be aired at noon Eastern time.
Fox will have its best game of the day will be at noon every Saturday.
— Andrew Marchand (@AndrewMarchand) May 13, 2019
This isn’t just a move that will be applauded by the get-off-my-lawn crowd, it’s smart business. Five FOX broadcasts finished first or second on the weekly TV rating scoreboard in 2018, according to Sports Media Watch, and all five aired in the noon window:
— Texas vs. Oklahoma (Week 6): 5.608 million viewers, 1st place
— Michigan at Michigan State (Week 8): 5.416 million, 2nd place
— Nebraska at Ohio State (Week 10): 5.006 million, 2nd place
— Ohio State at Michigan State (Week 11): 5.191 million, 2nd place
— Michigan at Ohio State (Week 13): 13.2 million, 1st place
Ohio State’s 62-39 drubbing of Michigan stood as the No. 2-rated regular season game of 2018, trailing only the SEC Championship. Even including bowl games, Michigan-Ohio State was seventh, trailing only the national championship and the Orange, Cotton, Rose and Sugar bowls.
There are three networks that handle the bulk of college football broadcasting: ABC/ESPN, CBS and FOX. ABC/ESPN puts its best games in the Saturday Night Football window, while the SEC on CBS owns the 3:30 window. FOX is looking to win the early afternoon time slot, and they’re going to do it by giving advertisers as many Ohio State, Michigan, Texas and Oklahoma games as they can.